AVIATION

Reduce air transport charges, EAC bloc told

These are mainly fees and taxes.

In Summary

•The taxes and fees compose 50 per cent of air tickets costs.

•The average airport charges in Eastern Africa is at $579.78 (about Sh6,3816), which is said to be on the higher side.

Uganda airlines plane
Uganda airlines plane
Image: HANDOUT

The East African Business Council (EABC) has called for the reduction of air-related fees and taxes to bring down the cost of air transport in the East Africa region.

This, as regional carriers position themselves for post-covid recovery where the pandemic saw the African aviation industry lose up to $10.21 billion (Sh1.12 trillion) in potential passenger revenue African Airlines Association.

The average airport charges in Eastern Africa is at $579.78 (about Sh6,3816), which is said to be on the higher side.

This is increasing air passenger ticket and cargo costs, making the  EAC bloc uncompetitive, EABC chief executive John Kalisa notes. 

In Eastern Africa, passenger taxes on regional departures are averaged at $46.16 (Sh5,080)  while international departures taxes are at $47.85(Sh5,266).

Passengers are also charged transfer and arrival taxes and fees.

Apart from taxes levied directly on the ticket, airlines are also charged  noise, parking, common user terminal equipment, jetway charge and passenger bus transfer fees,further increasing their operating costs.

Speaking during his courtesy visit to RwandAir, Kalisa urged the ministers in charge of transport in the EAC partner states to reduce and align the air parking, landing, navigation, handling fees and taxes, in order to increase traffic volumes and build resilience and recovery of the air transport sector in the EAC bloc.

 Air taxes and fees compose 50 per cent of air tickets costs, Kalisa noted.

"Reduction of these charges will lower operating and air-ticket costs leading to higher air traffic volumes, boosting regional tourism and business," he said.

RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo said:“ The region  needs a change of mindset as air travel is not a luxury but a necessity especially now with the disruptions of Covid-19 pandemic.”

She urged EABC to push for market access under the African Continental Free trade Area in order to boost export of EAC products.

She also urged the EAC partner states to grant each other the fifth freedoms.

 RwandAir has diversified to new routes such as Goma, Luanda, Maputo, Accra, Libreville in Africa. 

The Rwandan national carrier is among regional airlines which have set strong investment plans for growth.

It is eyeing a pie of the regional and international routes, buoyed by investment from Middle Eastern giant Qatar Airways, which in February last year announced a 49 per cent acquisition (stake) in the carrier.

Qatar Airways and the Rwandan government have also entered into an investment partnership whereby the Middle Eastern carrier agreed to take a 60 per cent stake in the new Bugesera airport (east of Kigali), a project worth nearly $1.3billion(Sh140 billion).

Kalisa commended RwandAir for achieving diamond status in the APEX health safety audit.

He urged airlines to diversify and partner in routes to enhance capacity  utilisation.

EABC chief executive John Kalisa with RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo during a courtesy call to the airline/HANDOUT
EABC chief executive John Kalisa with RwandAir CEO Yvonne Makolo during a courtesy call to the airline/HANDOUT